If you are a teacher of English to non-native speakers, you will know how many problems (real or imagined) students have with phrasal verbs.

When I ask my students which area of English they dislike the most, for the majority the answer is phrasal verbs.

This is the reason why I created the 'Phrasal Verb Daily' videos, to both help my own students to improve their knowledge of phrasal verbs and equip them with the ability to learn what the meaning of any phrasal verb is by themselves in the future.

What the videos will do for your students

These short videos (each lasts less than 2 minutes) will not only help your students to effectively learn and remember the meaning(s) of some commonly used phrasal verbs, but they will also to get them to use the context to guess the meaning and use of new English vocabulary in general.

But before I go on to explain some important information about the videos, who they are for and how I recommend you use the videos with your students, I will explain what I feel is the reason that students struggle with phrasal verbs and how to overcome this. This will help you to understand how to use the videos with your students.

Why students struggle with phrasal verbs

Having taught English as a foreign language for over 11 years, I have realised why the majority of students struggle with them. It is not because phrasal verbs are any more difficult to learn and remember than any other type of vocabulary, it is what students do to guess the meaning.

They look at the two or three words which make up a phrasal verb and use these to guess what the meaning is. This is a very logical thing to do, however, as far as phrasal verbs are concerned, the actual meaning being used of a phrasal verb is often very different to that, that would be suggested from the words which are used to form it.

Instead, they need to learn them like native speakers do. And that is by using the context (the topic and the sentence) of where they are found/used to guess the meaning. Once they start to do this, they stop considering phrasal verbs as something terrible.

Important information about the videos and who they are for

Only one meaning is used in each video

Over my career, I have found that if I explain all the meanings that a phrasal verb has to students at the same time, it causes many of them to get confused and doesn't help them to learn them.

As a result, each video of Phrasal Verb Daily only explains one meaning of a phrasal verb. If a phrasal verb has more than one meaning, I will explain each meaning in a different video (for example there will be two different videos for 'put off' and three different videos for 'sort out').

Which phrasal verbs are used

Not all phrasal verbs (or their meanings) are difficult to understand. In fact, many of them are easy to work out (e.g. 'sell out'). In addition, there will also be many phrasal verbs meanings which your students will already know and probably use (e.g. 'wake up' or 'go out').

It is only some phrasal verbs which learners have difficulties with. And it is these difficult or confusing phrasal verbs which you will find used in the videos in Phrasal Verb Daily.

Which levels to use them with

I would only use these videos with students who have an intermediate (B1) to advanced (C1) level of English. They are particularly useful for students studying for FCE, CAE or IELTS exams.

I wouldn't recommend that you use them for students who are studying at a C2 (proficiency) level (they will find them too easy). Neither would I recommend that you use them with students who are below intermediate/B1 levels of English (the videos may be a little too difficult to understand).

Using them with your students

You can use them how you want. And I am sure you may come up with a better way than I can. But I'm going to explain the method I use them with my students.

If you haven't watched one of the videos, watch one now before reading any more (click here to see the first Phrasal Verb Daily video).

Give it to them for homework

The videos have been designed for students to use by themselves. So, rather than showing your students the videos in class (apart from the first one which I would recommend you do, so they are clear about what they have to do), set watching them for homework.

Tell your students to follow the instructions in the videos (guess what the meaning of the phrasal verb is from the two examples). And then explain to them that the meaning of the phrasal verb will be shown after they have seen the two example sentences.

Make sure to tell them that they have to guess what the meaning of the phrasal verb is from the context it is in. It is this guessing/working out the meaning for themselves which is key for students to be able to remember what the meaning is in the future.

In addition, when you give it to them for homework, tell them what videos they have to watch for the homework (e.g. watch the videos for days 6,7,8,9 and 10).

Get them to write a sentence for each

Once they have watched the video and understood the meaning, tell your students that they have to write a sentence using the phrasal verb in their own words. For each video you set for homework, get them to write a sentence for each and bring it to the following class. This is important for helping them to remember the meaning of each one.

Quickly check by going around the students that they have done this at the beginning of the following class and make sure that they are using it with the right meaning.

I find it useful to get the students in pairs to read out to each other the sentences they have written.

Get them to do a quiz together after every 10 videos

To reinforce what they have learnt, there is a web quiz for them to do on this website after every 10 videos.

Each quiz will test them on the 10 phrasal verbs they have learnt (e.g. videos 1 to 10, 11 to 20 etc...). There are two parts to the quiz (the first where they have to put each of the phrasal verbs into a sentence and the second where they match each phrasal verb to its meaning).

If you have a computer with internet access in your classroom, I'd recommend that you do this quiz with your students as a class activity. The quiz will take them 5 to 10 minutes to do.

There will be a link to go to the quiz in the description part and comments section in each tenth video of Phrasal Verb Daily (e.g. video 10, video 20, video 30 etc...) or click here to see all the phrasal verb quizzes.

How many videos to watch in a week

I would suggest that you set them at most 5 of the videos to watch in a week. Tell them to watch one (or at most two) in any one day.

That's how I recommend that you use the Phrasal Verb Daily videos. But there is something that you need to be aware of.

They will make mistakes when using them

I wish I could say that after watching each video, all your students will understand the meaning and the use the phrasal verb perfectly. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. There will be the odd phrasal verb where some students slightly misunderstandd the meaning. If this is the case, make sure to correct them when you are checking the sentences they have written.

They will also make grammatical or syntax mistakes in some of the sentences they have created (e.g. incorrectly using (or not using) an object with the phrasal verb, using the wrong preposition after it etc...). I personally wouldn't correct these. The main purpose of these videos is to make students learn and remember the meaning(s) of phrasal verbs. The grammatical and syntax mistakes they make will naturally be corrected the more they see or hear the phrasal verbs being used.

In conclusion

If my students are anything to go by, these videos really do work in helping students improve their knowledge of English phrasal verbs. But not only this. Since using them, I have noticed a change in attitude in them about phrasal verbs and how they go about learning the meaning of English vocabulary in general. And I'm sure it will be the same for your students too.

To find all the videos for Phrasal Verb Daily, go to our YouTube channel.